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USNTDP has record eight selections in first round of NHL Draft

Players credit coaches, competitive atmosphere for their quick development

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VANCOUVER -- The USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team was the star of the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Eight players were selected at Rogers Arena on Friday, including seven in the top 15. The previous record was three, done seven times (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018).

"Kind of shows what they're doing there in Plymouth (Michigan), the way they're producing players, they have the formula figured out," said left wing Matthew Boldy, selected by the Minnesota Wild at No. 12.

"They know what they're doing and they're doing it the right way. It's only going to get better from here on out. They're only going to keep improving and producing better players. I owe a lot to that place. I don't think I'd be where I was without them."

 

[RELATED: NHL Draft first-round recapComplete NHL Draft coverage]

 

The run started at the top, with center Jack Hughes going to the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick.

"I'm part of the Devils organization," Hughes said. "I'm really fired up to be a part of them. I know it's a great organization, great people. I'm pumped up."

Center Alex Turcotte was next at No. 5 to the Los Angeles Kings.

"I have family in Los Angeles and I think it's pretty cool that I got picked there," he said. "Definitely a team that I was eyeing and hoping to get a chance to go to. Couldn't have worked out any better."

Video: Kings draft F Alex Turcotte No. 5

NTDP coach John Wroblewski agreed that Los Angeles is the right place for Turcotte.

"(Kings forward Tyler) Toffoli mentioned the need to up their practice tempo," Wroblewski said. "You're not going to get a better practice player or a guy that's more determined to push the pace in practice than Alex Turcotte."

Center Trevor Zegras went No. 9 to the Anaheim Ducks. He said he was just as excited for his teammates as he was for himself.

"When Alex and Jack got picked I was probably the third-happiest guy in the room," Zegras said.

The Ducks are stocked with young forwards, but Wroblewski believes a left-shot center like Zegras was the perfect player for them.

"They have a multitude of players on the right side, add the slick lefty in there, what a neat fit," he said.

Video: Ducks draft F Trevor Zegras No. 9

The selection of Boldy started a run of four straight NTDP players, with goalie Spencer Knight going No. 13 to the Florida Panthers, defenseman Cameron York at No. 14 to the Philadelphia Flyers and right wing Cole Caufield at No. 15 to the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's unbelievable," York said. "I think it just says how hard a group that we had and how hard we worked. The practices that we had were so competitive. It was like a bag skate every practice for our group. I'm proud of those guys, I know how hard they work. Each one of those teams is getting a very special player and a special person as well."

Center John Beecher rounded out the group, going No. 30 to the Boston Bruins.

Knight said the work during their two seasons together is what makes the NTDP players so desirable to NHL teams.

"It teaches you how to be a pro, both on and off the ice," he said. "You have to take care of your business. It's a great atmosphere to be in if you want to be an American professional hockey player."

Video: Panthers draft G Spencer Knight No. 13

Wroblewski has been with these players for the past two seasons and said seeing their dreams come true was validation for their hard work.

"I take personal pride in the idea that these kids have achieved their dream, and it goes back to the program mantra," Wroblewski said. "What our mantra is, is to do what's best for the player every opportunity you can. ... I'm really happy for the kids because they have to put in so much work. We get to sit back and be influenced by them, inspired by them. This day is about them, and the program gets accolades on top of it."

 

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